Forty-four workers, mostly recent immigrants, were locked out of Mercedes Textiles in Ville-Saint-Laurent, Quebec, after rejecting the company’s contract offer.
Local 1-1000 of the Syndicat des Métallos (United Steelworkers) reports the locked-out employees were subjected to poor working conditions, something the union said contributed to high turnover rates in the workplace.
“This company hires recently arrived workers who they think are easier to exploit,” said Darlene Jalbert, vice-president of Local 1-1000. “But these workers are standing up and demanding respect. Many of them have to work two or three jobs to support their families, so they don’t want to be forced to work mandatory overtime, as this company is proposing.”
The union alleges the company locked employees out in an effort to force concessions, including a longer probationary period before workers can earn full wages.
Workers, however, are calling for wage hikes of three per cent.
“The plant is running at full capacity and has a lot of contracts, but this company does not recognize nor appreciate our hard work,” said Arvin Dizon, chairman of the locked-out workers’ bargaining unit.
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